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Published on Mar 1, 2017
The election of President Trump is a major challenge for the liberal, rule—based international relations over which we in the west have been seeking to build a consensus ever since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1991. Trump’s agenda should be of no surprise to us for we have heard the same kind of arguments from the nationalist populists here in this House, who claim that globalisation is the idea of an out-of-touch, over-privileged metropolitan political elite.
Sadly, the populists now seek common ground and accommodation with President Putin, who shares, for very different reasons, their same animosity and is only too pleased to exploit it, as we now see from what is going on in the French elections. Trump’s continued admiration for Putin, his lack of clarity regarding sanctions and even his mooted Reykjavik meeting are very alarming. But Trump is not Ronald Reagan, Putin is no Mikhail Gorbachev and this is not 1987.
That relations with Russia should improve and normalise is, of course, to be welcomed, but this cannot be achieved at the expense of Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. I am quite certain that the recent ratcheting-up of aggression in eastern Ukraine is a direct result of Trump’s assertions and is probing the new US administration’s resolve. The EU must therefore remain united in its position and its resolve that Ukraine – now, I am glad to say, growing well economically under the EU Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade agreement – cannot become a precedent for territorial annexation with impunity, and of course the Minsk agreements must be fully implemented.